I have always loved nursery rhymes. I find some of them mirroring the realities of life in words simple enough for a child to understand. One of my favorites was "Lavender Blue". A song really, more than a rhyme.
It went this way…
Lavender's Blue, Lavender's Green
When I am the King, You shall be my Queen…
Who told you so, Who told you so
My heart told me so, My heart told me so
The thread that ties this rhyme to selling brands to a woman is "My heart".
Men and women differ as chalk and cheese when it comes to the head and the heart. For most women, the heart speaks more than her head, in a language she understands and loves. And when it comes to a clash between what her head says and what her heart does, there are times and times and times again when she follows her heart.
What's in her heart?
Her family, friends, favourite book, may be religion, the fragrance she loves, images of her dreams and her aspirations. Her heart is her secret ally, her hideaway, her album of loved images, and her lighthouse when she looks for signals from Life.
From her heart springs her emotions, which lead her in making some of the most important decisions in life.
The question is, are we, as dream weavers, looking at a woman through the lens of her heart?
Moving from head to heart - of belonging to the 'heartscape'
The 'mindscape' of a consumer is where brands attempt to position themselves. Is there a case for looking at a space where we don't consciously attempt to house ourselves - the space in a woman's heart?
I would like to define the 'heartscape' as simply the space in our hearts around which our emotions are involved. A brand can safely say it has a place in a woman's heart when she says, " It's close to my heart," or " I feel so good, I just can't explain it," or maybe " I don't know what's in him that I love so much, but I can't live without him."
The power of being in the heartscape
Heartscape brands are a bond with a person's deepest emotions. A connection, which leaves a mark, an impression. And moves a person, to laughter or tears. The relationship is like any other relationship in life. The brand and the consumer enters into a tie, an unwritten understanding of trust, belief and of mutual satisfaction of needs.
It is a connection that transcends mere reason and logic. To the consumer, the brand in her "heart's eye" takes the form of an entity, a relationship. Could be that of a friend, a lover, a guide and philosopher?
How advertising can help brands belong to a woman's heartscape
Advertising is a silent persuader. Use of affirmative imagery, strong characters and personality, life snippets can make advertising influence a woman's thought process, whet her dreams and appetite to stand for what she believes in.
Starting with Emotion
Emotion is energy in motion. Where we feel waves of energy that rush through our hearts and permeates into every cell in the body. They say, a man thinks with his head, a woman thinks with her entire body. A woman's heart often leads her down paths she would have less travelled if she had followed her mind.
A woman cries unabashedly when Achilles is killed in the movie Troy, fully knowing Brad Pitt is happily holidaying with Jennifer Anniston. Closer home, women watch movies and sob over a mother whose son's are leaving her to join the army, over a girl whose boyfriend is being wooed by a rich and evil woman, they clap when they are happily married in the end. And, they talk about the movie for weeks afterwards. Living through the emotions over and over again.
That is memorability, that is the power of emotions. Every character in the movie is beautiful, even the rich and evil woman, but what makes the characters unforgettable are their actions and their lives, as seen through the emotional lenses for three hours.
The question is, how do we ensure that we create emotions that strike a chord where none has struck before, in her heart? Following are some steps leading us to that end.
Discovering 'Heart Insights'
The first step towards creating communication for brands is to find a place in the woman's heartscape is Heart Insights. Heart Insights are a deep perception of some feeling or emotion. These have to, therefore, necessarily revolve around 'feeling' and 'desire'. "I feel like…" or "I want to be like…"
Heart insights go beyond what the brands functional benefits are to what a woman wants out of life, and what drives her as a result of that benefit.
Creating 'heart scripts' - snippets from her life
Writing a story in 30 seconds is tough. But if these 30 seconds can capture a moment in life that every woman aspires for, we would then create a very strong connect. These 30 seconds hold the key to the consumer's heart, to her heartscape. And once we are there, a bond is formed that is too strong to be swayed by mere superficial promises.
We can write a good script when we talk to a woman, not about how she feels about our brand and our competition, but how she feels about life. What are the pictures in her lifescape - the area around which she exists - that captivate her? What are her dreams woven around? What would she do if she had all the power in the world?
My numerous consumer home visits have shown time and again that the Indian woman is going through waves of changes. She wants to experience, to be denied nothing, to challenge conventional mindsets, to get noticed, to share the spotlight, to earn respect, to make a difference. She wants "half the sky".
How do we give her that, with our brand values and experiences?
Discovering a way to her heart
We have to start by understanding the woman consumer and shadowing her in as many ways possible, developing a bank of emotional understanding.
Generating Heart Insights: Frequent home visits: Where the entire team in the agency, including the creative team, goes out and talks to the woman in her home ground, about her life, her dreams and aspirations.
Shadowing young girls in colleges, hangouts, listening to their talk, seeing what they look at in shop windows, what makes them happy, what makes them laugh.
Diaries given to consumers where they write about their deepest desires, and what they admire in other women.
Watching movies and soaps that are popular with women, studying the values and personalities the main characters embody.
Reading the popular magazines, the articles, the perceptions of beauty.
Look at real life examples and situations of women who have done something remarkable.
Read books women love, and see if there is a snippet of the character that can be frozen in the frames.
Be aware of women's issues, gender conflicts, success stories and see if something makes sense with our message of beauty.
Developing Life Scripts
Writing for a woman and not for a brand
Judging it by the spontaneous reaction among women around us, before the stipulated research methods. The gut tells us truths that research may fail to unveil.
Have a good mix of women in the team working on brands for women
I have worked with men who are extremely sensitive to women, are very good at their jobs and make outstanding advertising.
But let's face it. A woman can understand a woman, her mind, her heart. The way we look at things are different and a man will look at most aspects from his perspective. Most of which may be similar to a woman's. But there will always be instances of 'similar situations, different reactions'.
Women bring experience to the table and her perspective has to be taken on board.
To conclude, it is our responsibility to show a woman that we understand her, what she wants, what she dreams of, we realise what her true potential is, and how brands, amongst other things, can give her that little boost to live her dreams. If we can make her sit up and take notice, if she feels " Why not? I can do it too", we would have moved a step closer to her most private yet strongest domain - her heartscape.
And the most effective measure of it all is just how fast her heart beats.
(The writer works in JWT, Mumbai, as an account director on Unilever brands).
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